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U.N. Rights Panel Rejects Move by U.S. to Review Abuses in Cuba

March 12, 1987|From Reuters

GENEVA — The U.N. Human Rights Commission rejected by one vote Wednesday a U.S. attempt to subject Cuba to special scrutiny for alleged human rights abuses.

By 19-18, with 6 abstentions, the commission endorsed an Indian motion to shelve a U.S. draft resolution expressing deep concern over the alleged violations and calling on Havana to release all political prisoners.

In the final week of its annual six-week session, the commission also voted, again on India's initiative, to take no action on a rival draft by Cuba charging oppression of Indian, black and Puerto Rican communities in the United States.

That vote was 17-15 with 11 abstentions.

Second Attempt

It was the second time in four months that the United States had tried vainly to pillory Cuba in a U.N. forum for alleged human rights breaches.

A similar resolution and two Cuban countermotions were presented at the U.N. General Assembly last November but later withdrawn.

In urging the commission to take no action, India said its aim was to keep the panel's dignity and authority untarnished. It said that action would serve no useful purpose.

Weeks of Campaigning

The vote came after weeks of campaigning by U.S. delegation leader E. Robert Wallach inside and outside the commission for what he said was an overdue probe into Cuba's human rights record.

Western delegations argued that the panel should not shy away from its responsibility to discuss human rights violations wherever they occur.

Wallach told a news conference afterward that he was disappointed by a lack of support by Latin American delegations.

He said the real losers were Cuba's political prisoners, which U.S. delegates have said are held in harsh conditions and number 14,000.

Wallach said the commission could expect the issue of Cuba to be raised again at its 1988 session.

Cuba Praises Vote

In Havana, Cuba's deputy minister of foreign relations, Jose Viera, called Wednesday's vote "a defeat of the first magnitude for the Reagan Administration."

In other action Wednesday, the rights commission adopted a resolution appealing to the government of El Salvador and leftist rebels to resume peace talks. The vote was 36-0 with seven abstentions.

The resolution urged both parties to avoid harming civilians in the conflict and appealed to unnamed states to refrain from intervening in the situation.

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